Study: One in Ten Americans Suffer From Depression

Each year, I speak to the first-year law students in my class about depression and mental illness — and the need to seek help. Law students often assume that problems like depression are rare when they are quite common among lawyers and are not barriers to professional development. Now, a study has concluded that roughly one in ten Americans suffer from depression and one in 30 suffer from major or manic depression.

Because the study excluded homeless and prisoner populations (known to have higher rates of such problems), the real figures are assumed to be much higher.

What is striking about this study is the sheer size of the surveyed population. Over 235,000 adults were surveyed between 2006 and 2008 in 45 states and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The study was carried out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One interesting finding was that seven percent of people who had not completed high school suffered major depression as compared to four percent of high school graduates. Moreover, women were more likely to suffer from depression than men — and blacks and hispanics were more likely than whites. Finally, young people were more likely to be depressed than people over 65 years old.

Such studies are important to show students that depression is a common problem in every group of society regardless of profession, class, race or gender. The most dangerous thing is to try to hide it or handle it on your own. Many successful lawyers deal openly with depression and have successful and even storied careers. The only danger is denial. For more information for GW students, visit this site.


Jonathan Turley

18 thoughts on “Study: One in Ten Americans Suffer From Depression”

  1. I should also mention:

    Good on you JT, I’m sure your talk has helped many through tough times.

  2. While finding out what can increase likelihood of depression is an important step in treatment and prevention I’d like to stress that you don’t need to make excuses for depression any more than you need to make excuses for having a leaky heart valve. It’s an illness. If you have it, seek help, and don’t feel guilty.

  3. Lies, damned lies, statistics… It’s an interesting study, but I would like to know more about methodologies. For instance, when higher education is linked to lower risks of depression, is it related to level of life, etc.

  4. Hello Blouise,

    Thank you Mespo….

    You are right on target eniobob….

  5. AY:

    “The ride…..hell….I think a nuclear bomb does less destruction, long term”


  6. mespo,

    I have no time to write but must make time as I am once again struck by your words … I have 3 grandkids surrounding my chair as I type, each with their report in hand and chomping at the bit to present. For them this entire exercise was fun. It was totally outside their “class schedule” and there will be no credit given but they enjoyed the entire exercise. That’s real education … learning for the love of learning, to satisfy curiosity, and grow.

    AND … thank you for this: ” in the finest educational system in the world given the size of the population,” … it is a pretty amazing system for each child is given the opportunity, should he or she wish to grab hold of it, to gain an education and, with all the Joint Vocational High Schools and Community Colleges, prepare themselves for a career in almost any field imaginable.

    Not enough time to continue … you should be here …

    Good afternoon, AY

  7. mespo,

    Good morning…You have hit the nail on the head….but then again there are the over achievers in High School that can’t just cut it in college….then there are the ones that are pressured to excel in whatever the parent thinks that the child should do…If you can agree…the ones that went into the legal profession went in with our various goals…to make money…to do justice…to please a parent…to follow a dream….and then the ones like me….it was easier than working…..I was going to go off to med school, believe it or not in Grenada….then I was told….you have used up all of your share of our generosity…so, no more money….which meant no more school….

  8. I think we put entirely too much pressure on young people to perform both socially and academically. Not content to be merely “average” in the finest educational system in the world given the size of the population, we insist on “gifted” programs, specialty centers, and a myriad of elite programs that extend even to grade school. We may be encouraging the “best and the brightest” but we are emotionally condemning the vast majority of students to the status of “cannot be’s” with absolutely no basis or experience-based rationale for that label. This frustration inevitably leads to depression, anxiety, and worse. Why not let students achieve without the need to label their performance? Such elitism is antithetical to a democracy, whose disdain for such scholarly aristocracy used to hold these notions in check. Popular government is definitionally bound to look after the well-being of the vast number of its “average” citizens without the pedigree the educational establishment seems to assert is the sine qua non for sucess. Gates, Jobs, Dell, Branson, Diller, all seem to disprove this contention, yet it persists. In case we haven’t noticed, the elites always seem to do well on their own.

  9. there is definitely a stigma attached to admitting you that you are depressed or seeking treatment.. when I was in college my doctor suggested I see a psychiatrist and referred me to her friend.. my family flipped.. I was not diagnosed with depression and I benefited from talking to an adult, who is not family, who helped me put certain things in perspective.. he gave me prozac but I never took it..

    I have since seen several psychiatrists when things got tough and I noticed that I was behaving erratically or being destructive to myself in my career.. what I found in those situations is that the industry is full of bad doctors and it can be really tough to find the one that can help.. the majority of times they insist on you taking medications and as much of it as possible.. a lot of times they themselves are not very intelligent or don’t have the experience..

    what worries then, is if we start classifying any mood swing as depression and we start pumping people with medicine when sometimes we just need guidance from adults..

    back to the article, my question is: from all those people who were intereviewed, how many of them were officially diagnosed as depressed? the question here is: are they really depressed or are they temporarily meloncholic because we do live in a depressing world with poverty, pain, injustice etc.. I am not saying we should not see professional help but we should be vigilant in doing so as well..

    15 years after my first visit to the first psychiatrist and 7 or 8 doctors later, I am still not officially diagnosed as depressed. yet the medication they put me on last time, while it rendered me totally unable to form a thought thus relaxed me and made loopy and goofy, had me screaming in the grocery store like a maniac thinking I was being attacked when it was just a light that shone in my face.. I stopped the medication and few weeks later I got a mailing telling me that I have not been refilling my med and that this can be dangerous and I need to seek professional help immediately..

    I do think that people need help dealing with the stresses of life, but you are not really an adult just because you left home, I just think that we need to appraoch this with caution.

  10. eniobob,

    The ride…..hell….I think a nuclear bomb does less destruction, long term…..One mantra….we are a sum consequence of all of our actions or inactions….

  11. AY:

    Like I said Depression is like an invisible spider web,it ensnares all who are around the person with the sickness.

    And if drugs and alcohol come in to play with that person,all I can say is buckle down because the ride is really.really rough.

  12. eniobob,

    You hit a never because you hit on some more truths…We have greater access to Drugs and Alcohol…some legal some not….Minnesota has the distinction for being the fist Bar to implement a Program LCL which deals with all aspect of issues Lawyers deal with:

    Here is the Link: for all of the states that offer services and I noticed Canada is even represented.

    One study I read concluded that people such as Attorneys are consistently over achievers and suffer from some issue and are able to mask it with school until it ripens and there is no longer an avenue or mask to hide from or goal to achieve.

    The issue then becomes, which occurred first? The Depression or the Abused Substance…..Some people treat the symptom while never treating the cause….like putting paint over wallpaper….it’ll hold but just don’t look right….

    Most Doctors say oh here takes these you’ll feel better….I look at Psychiatrists as legalized dope dealers…Treat the issue not the problem…

    Professor, Good going…..DO IT Again….after the fear of the First Year has left….I hit a 3.5 the first year and had a smooth sail the next few years….

  13. A close and personal subject,have relative with syndrome and it can carry over to persons in the family who don’t have the problem.

    Its like having someone who is addicted to drugs or incarcerated or what ever the problem may be,even though its not you,you still suffer.

  14. I had a friend who was a counselor at UPenn. Told me that the number of law and business students in for help was really high. Encouraged me to talk up the availability of services at Cornell, where the suicide rate is pretty high and dramatic—they jump off the local bridges.

  15. G’morning all you early-birds!

    That’s an interesting study. it seems like the most likely groups to suffer the higher rates of depression are the historically disenfranchised and/or economically undervalued.

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